EVENTS – THE 2012 RB MEETING AT NIKKO CIRCUIT PART 1
This two part series on the fourth annual RB Meeting at Nikko is going to be HUGE. I’ve got over 80 filthy shots and plenty to say about one of the best events of the year at the famous circuit; The meeting an absolute must see for any fan worth his/her “RB” branded salt. There were Nissans, some other Nissans and again more Nissans just going at it hell for leather all day and into the evening with the weather playing its part; helping to keep festivities jovial and smoke clouds pouring off tires…
This was a special occasion for myself on another level as well. I’d just handed back the keys to a Glacier white E92 M3 two days prior to the event but in their place was something perhaps even more special; a set of keys to a Fire orange Toyota 86 in top spec, GT Limited trim and sporting a 6 speed H pattern box. If I wanted to be the black sheep to an event like the RB Day, this was the car to accomplish it in!
I teamed up again with the lovely Ellie Nikolova from MotoIQ to catalog the event for the masses. I was suffering from massive sleep deprivation as we set off on Monday morning for the 200km journey north to Nikko circuit. Why sleep deprived? Well, Sunday was spent in Miura shooting… hmm, you’ll have to wait and see what we got up to! But I promise you, you’ll enjoy it. Back to the point though. I was stressing out about the drive up there because Golden week in Japan is probably the busiest time of the year to be taking to the roads but the journey up to Nikko was basically traffic congestion free and the nimble 86 just allowed me to dart in and out of lanes as I pleased, oblivious to the lethargy of tourists on autopilot.
We arrived at Nikko early enough to catch the drift worm but in time to be greeted with the delightful sounds of screaming tires and smoke clouds from over 90 RB-powered Nissans making their way around the track as fast and as sideways as the drivers dared. Secret Garage Seo president and organizer of the RB event, Seo san, greeted us with a big smile and inquired about why I was so late! Of course he knew of 7Tune having seen the previous years coverage and generously, he arranged for Ellie and I to take up the orange media vests that allowed us to capture some of the crazy angles you’ll see in this post.
This is Seo san dipping into no-mans land and smoking out like a boss in his R32.
The year before, I wasn’t able to make the event but my good friend Diogo ( Who I’ll refer to as Checho from here on in ) had insisted I come along this time around and the opportunity to cane the 86 on the way there and back whilst enjoying some grass roots drift along the way, was too good to pass up. Checho is a relative beginner in drifting, having only ever attended 5 events prior to this one, but as you’ll find out during this coverage, he now kicks some mean ass when going sideways. The Purple People Eater looked as battered as I remembered it from months earlier but Checho was in good spirits having modified the car to include knuckles, tougher Nismo arms and an overhaul of the engine. The car was now apparently making over 450hp. A few laps with him behind the wheel proved as much and wow, had his skills improved to the point where he as the driver I remembered, didn’t exist any longer. Everyone I spoke to agreed on this point.
Nikko is a track that demands massive commitment to putting your jewels on the line time after time. In the normal clockwise layout, you have to be totally committed to go steaming in with 3rd gear grabs at over 130kph and know you have the confidence to snake in a flick before that massive lift-off that leads you, and the car, into no-mans land where there is nothing but embankment. Get it wrong and it is easy to screw up your entire day… or month.
In fact, Nikko used to be a LOT tougher than this, with a merciless gravel trap at the end of this first turn that would tractor beam you in there if you made the slightest error in correction. Now, an extra paved run off area replaces the death trap and drivers have become a lot more accustomed to going in even harder under power knowing that the drop off would save them and the car from embarrassment and/or damage.
But as always at any drift event, there were a few mishaps; in this case involving a C35 Laurel… You could just see the car was going in way too hot…
The driver, Kajiyama, attempted to correct the impending impact but found it was a little too late for that. You can see he’s already checking for where the car’s going to hit.
Bam! It looked like a proper impact with dust and dirt flying over the embankment in big plumes.
But Kajiyama wasn’t fussed and stuck the boot right back into the big 4 door, fishtailing the final section with a trail of dust following in his wake. The car looked like it suffered only superficial damage. Nissan Tough.
By far, the biggest “mishap” occurred to the #25 R32 GTS-t driven by Mitsugi, who must have had the front end bite viscously, sending him on a bee-line right over the gap between the embankments at the first hairpin section and into the drink.
Not a pretty sight! But there is some good news on this car later in the next post.
What a spectacle Nikko provides for viewers and professionals alike! I can’t recall any circuit I’ve been to where it is considered de riguer to drop all four wheels into the paved ditches only to have one of the wheels pop up in the air and float as the car slides out sideways, finds traction and props itself back up onto the main section of tarmac.
3 wheel drifting never looked so aggressive… or amazing.
And it was something that everybody was trying to do. As I said, you need balls to commit to a track like this and the more timid among the drivers would flirt with the edge but never overstep it. Can’t say the same about Ray Cruz. A buddy of mine from the bases in Tokyo, Ray is no stranger to Nikko ( or drifting a big ass, 4 door Skyline for that matter ) and on a couple of runs with him, counterclockwise I might add, I finally got a sense of what all the fuss about the track layout was all about. It’s epic.
It’s intimidating to know there’s a drop over that line you can just see but the braver drivers know there’s grip there, so in they went, balls to the wall with rear tires gunning smoke plumes; only for the car to prop up and hop back onto the circuit as if it was all a part of the plan. It’s so very easy to love Nikko circuit, it’s a spectator friendly layout and driver oriented track set-up.
The RB day is traditionally divided up into classes and with a field of 90 cars, there is definitely some dividing to do. Friend and pro drifter, Sato san from Mtechnix, was placed into the Expert class.
Ray took a “High class” position…
…and Checho slotted into Middle class. Not bad for a young guy in only his 6th time behind the wheel on the track!
The paddock was teaming with activity and a few celebrities came along to liven up the festivities…
Bomber was MC’ing…
and Ken Nomura were there to participate and take some lucky spectators around the track in this hammered HCR32. You’re never too big ( or famous ) to have a rocking good time!
Obviously there was nothing but RB after RB engine at the event and some of the engine bays were downright serious. Like Hasegawa’s RB26DETT powered S15 from Funky racing.
It had the lock to match the aggression.
And showed it out on track with Funky entries all day long.
There was plenty of awesome metal out at the event and the weather was just perfect. Such an awesome way to spend the national holiday Monday. Above is Ono san in his fire breathing RB25DET Skyline.
As media you can get VERY close to the action but as always it pays to just keep your head and not do anything silly. In Japan it is a lot easier to know that you can place more faith in the level of driving ability here – I’d never even dare to do this at an Aussie or American event where the skill levels are much lower and accidents much more likely to occur. Still, this was as close as I wanted to get.
One of my favorite cars of the day was this mean looking chocolate/bronze colored C35 rocking bronze TE37′s and baking road every time it went out with over 700hp of its RB28DETT muscle.
Some drivers backed off around the far side of the course but not Koguma san in that #81 C35.
The car is an absolute beast of a thing.
There is tons more to show you from the day including some interesting conversions,
…more sideways action than you can poke an RB at…
plenty more from the paddock….
and some good news to end the day.
So stay tuned for part 2 coming in the next couple of days…
WORDS AND PHOTOS – ADAM ZILLIN
CAMERA – Nikon D3 with 24-120mm f:4 Nikkor lens
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